Questions tagged [culture]

文化. Where the linguistic aspects of Japanese culture and the cultural aspects of the Japanese language overlap.

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20
votes
5answers
5k views

How do Japanese speakers transition from polite to plain form amongst friends?

When you first meet somebody, polite language is, on the whole, the most commonly used form of Japanese. Children may differ, and I understand that not everyone will use plain form, but regardless a ...
31
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3answers
4k views

Is it ok for non-japanese to refer to themselves as 僕{ぼく} and if not why?

Grammatically speaking it shouldn't be an issue, but I have heard from some people that a non-japanese using 僕{ぼく} sounds really weird. Has anyone else heard this? And if so, is there a reason?
25
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3answers
12k views

Will verbal irony and sarcasm be understood and/or appreciated?

It's a topic of debate to what extent Japanese has sarcasm and irony. In any case, Japanese speakers seem to use a whole lot less of it than English speakers. My question is: whether or not Japanese ...
23
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1answer
12k views

Getting your haircut in Japan

I have been living in Japan now for the last 3 months and my hair is starting to look like it needs a cut. But I have never been to a Japanese barbers before so as you can imagine I am a little ...
43
votes
5answers
15k views

Is it proper to thank waitstaff, cashiers, etc. for their service?

In my Japanese class we were taught that one does not need to thank a cashier when they check you out or a server when they bring you your meal, but I always feel awkward remaining silent. Was my ...
14
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4answers
4k views

How commonly are "あたし" or "[僕]{ぼく}" used?

My friend and I are learning Japanese. For a time, all we knew was 私, but after we learned more words, she started to use あたし when referring to herself, and I began using 僕. What I'm wondering is, how ...
19
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5answers
4k views

Why are some words written backwards on trucks

I was driving the other day and saw a truck with 一般 written as 般一 on the drivers side door. My wife was telling me that this is often the case with trucks, where it is actually written from right to ...
12
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3answers
802 views

What are the stereotypical qualities of a gaijin trying to speak/write Japanese to a Japanese person?

There are plenty of stereotypical qualities of a Japanese speaking person trying to speak English, so, would I be correct in assuming the reverse is also the case, and if so, what would the most ...
9
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3answers
2k views

Are there any terms used to refer to people of the anime/manga fandom in a non-derogatory manner?

In the Western world, anime/manga fans are commonly referred to as otaku (Hiragana: おたく, Katakana: オタク). [1] In Japanese however, this is a (mildly) derogatory word for a geek, nerd, or any person who ...
16
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8answers
3k views

Is the word ハーフ derogatory?

Is the term ハーフ (mixed-race Japanese/other) derogatory? Can you use it in a newspaper article? Can you use it to describe your boss? If it is derogatory, what word(s) should one use instead?
11
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3answers
49k views

Address someone by their first name, or their last name?

When addressing John Doe, would you say "John-さん", or "Doe-さん"? Does it depend on how polite or formal you're being? Does it also depend on whether the person is a nihonjin, a kankokujin (who have ...
8
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1answer
1k views

What are the general patterns of child-directed speech in Japanese?

In English, parents usually talk to their kids differently from how they usually talk. The words they use when doing so usually ends in -y. For example, "kitten" becomes "kitty", "I" usually turns ...
12
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1answer
2k views

Is -さん used when referring to a celebrity or historical figures?

When referring to a celebrity or historical figure, do you use -さん? I am listening to Yoko Shimomura. Would it be:"下村陽子さんを聞いている。"? Abraham Lincoln is my favorite president. Would it be: "...
21
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3answers
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What to say after someone dies

What is the proper response when someone tells you, for example, that their mother has died? Relatedly, what should you do to express your sympathy? Do you send a card? flowers? bake a casserole?
8
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2answers
3k views

Why are Japanese fonts different to Chinese?

I’ve noticed that Japanese and Chinese writing tends to use different fonts. Japanese fonts tend use wider lines and more curves. Chinese fonts tend to use narrow angular lines and there are ...
15
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4answers
2k views

How would I respectfully disagree with a superior?

If my manager says something that I know to be factually incorrect, how can I point that out without sounding disrespectful? (Is ~違います appropriate in this context or is that too strong?) Is this a ...
14
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1answer
249 views

Did the Japanese have a concept of "Asia" apart from the Eurocentric definition?

Japan had contact with China, India and the Mongols, among others. Is there a term they used for Asia (in the sense of "land mass where China is" or such) before "アジア"?
5
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1answer
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What are the reasons for the huge amount of loanwords in Japanese?

It seems that Japanese has far more loanwords than any other language I've heard spoken. I understand that English is far-reaching and a global language, but are there many known reasons that English ...
5
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2answers
6k views

How to express "being sorry" as a sympathetic feeling?

I'm surprised this question hasn't been asked already so in case I just missed it in my searches please point me to it. Is there a general way to express "being sorry" not when apologizing of course, ...
4
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2answers
6k views

Heisig story #30 (Nightbreak) 旦, shouldn't it mean "daybreak" instead?

I believe that the tittle already covers my question, but I will explain it better here. When I was reading the Heisig book (Remembering the Kanji, the sixth edition I believe) I came across the ...
3
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1answer
2k views

What does it say on my Japanese alarm clock? [closed]

I bought an alarm clock (good clocks with AA batteries instead of button-like) with Japanese characters and found it difficult to understand, even with a dictionary. Could someone explain what is ...
3
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1answer
2k views

Calling someone older brother/sister and the implications on relationships

If a Japanese person calls you older brother/sister(お兄さん, お姉さん), in addition to implying closeness, does it also mean that they are implying a platonic relationship?
16
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1answer
4k views

What do you mean, "In Japanese there are no words for "I’m suffering""?

Today I noticed this article about eating disorders in Japan, which I got to via the News on Japan site. The first line jumps out at me. Supposedly, in an interview, a 25 year old Japanese woman ...
12
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2answers
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When angry we shout "F***!", but what do 日本人 shout?

I have to ask, when you kick a Japanese boy in the nuts or whatever, ignoring the obvious sounds a human makes when entering into such a state, what bits of language will they impulsively shout in ...
8
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1answer
3k views

How are twins addressed by their teacher at school?

If two twin brothers attended the same class, how would their teacher address each of them to indicate to whom they were speaking to, since they shared the same family name? Would one be seen as the ...
7
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2answers
3k views

How rude is it to speak to a Japanese stranger informally instead of using the polite form?

Are there any native Japanese here that could tell me how rude it is to speak informally to Japanese people I have never met instead of using the polite form? I'm assuming it's more rude the older the ...
7
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3answers
2k views

Does the (USA) English metaphor "Unable to see the forest for the trees" keep its meaning if translated verbatim into Japanese?

The phrase "Unable to see the forest for the trees" implies one is too entangled in a situation to understand what is transpiring from a larger context, and thus, unable to determine the correct ...
14
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1answer
1k views

What is that thing yelled in Japanese when starting something?

When starting some activity, I've heard something like 'Se..inou... ' (I'm not sure what are the specific words for this). The context for this word I'd think is pretty much the same as when saying 1,...
11
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2answers
311 views

日本のテレビを見ると、サブタイトルがいつも出てきます。でもサブタイトルじゃなくて。。。何と言いますか?

日本のテレビを見ると、サブタイトルがいつも出てきます。でもサブタイトルじゃなくて。。。何と言いますか? what does one call Japanese "subtitles" that constantly appear in Japanese television and to a lesser extent movies? I'm referring to a sentence ...
10
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1answer
23k views

How to define 羨ましい?

羨【うらや】ましい! You're so lucky!/ I envy you!/ I'm jealous of you! As I learned it, 羨ましい as an exclamation does not carry much of a negative context, so perhaps a combination of these three ...
8
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1answer
5k views

How should I bid farewell to a superior?

My boss is leaving soon after years of service. What would be a good way for me to express my gratitude for all of his guidance and help? I am somewhat familiar with the expression お世話になりました but am ...
7
votes
1answer
466 views

The radical "貝" and its relation to economic characters such as "貨" "資" etc

Preface My recent trip to Japan allowed me to see many Chinese characters i.e., Kanji (漢字) and one thing that caught my attention was an extensive use of the radical "貝"(かい) on words/characters ...
6
votes
2answers
291 views

Are there names like ワンコイン for the other coins?

So ワンコイン refers to a 500円 coin, but is there other names for the other coins? Also in conversation does ワンコイン refer to any specific currency or only to 500 yen (as in the sense of being a default).
6
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2answers
523 views

What was the origin for the term 水{みず}色{いろ} to be associated with youth, adolescence and puberty?

I am particularly interested in the phrase 「水{みず}色{いろ}時{じ}代{だい}」. Did it come from the old manga that used the phrase as its title, or has the phrase been carrying that particular cultural connotation ...
5
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1answer
381 views

How would you express the sentiment of "Happy New Era" [duplicate]

Something like 良いお時代を。? Or would you specifically say 令和? If not that, what would be a literal English translation?
5
votes
1answer
56k views

How to address and greet Japanese people in an english email [closed]

I am aware that in Japanese it is considered to be rude to address other people with just their first name, but I wonder if this is only true for communication in Japanese, of if this still holds true ...
4
votes
1answer
300 views

What is the implication when a girl refers to herself using "うち"? Is it meant to be more or less feminine? Neutral? Tomboyish?

I realize it is a kind of Kansai-ben but how does it compare to the other forms of "I" in terms of how they want to represent themselves?
4
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2answers
604 views

Other than はじめまして, what can we say in our introduction?

Other than はじめまして, what else can we say at the beginning of our introduction when meeting someone for the first time? Also, what else do we need to say when introducing ourselves other than our name ...
0
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0answers
145 views

What are the special coins and notes used that honor the Olympics and the new Emperor called? [duplicate]

I understand that some new Olympic and Imperial coins/notes are being introduced into general circulation. I just want to know what these special Olympic and new Emperor coin/notes would be called.